Crisis in the Control Room


I remember when my life had a certain stability and predictability to it. I recall a time when there seemed to be some general order to my world. There were certain constants, some givens, a range of things that I could expect. I remember when I thought I had some idea about how things worked in my universe.

The sovereign God was in control. And that was a comforting thought.

Then came a day when my world began to tilt, wobble, and turn upside-down. Planets began to fly out of orbit. The laws of my universe that had maintained order for so long, seemed no longer to apply. The expected didn’t happen; the unthinkable did.

The sovereign God was in control. And that was a deeply unsettling thought.

When God is doing “reasonable” things, His sovereignty is reassuring. When we can’t make any sense of His governing of our affairs, we become desperate to get Him to be “reasonable.”

So, I took my place behind the master console in my heart’s control room. Then I began pulling every lever, pushing every button, flipping every switch, and turning every dial in order to move God to take action to restore order in my universe. I prayed, fasted, repented, pleaded, lamented, complained, and petitioned.

Nothing improved. My control panel lit up with errors, faults, and failures.

I cranked up my fervency, dialed in my specificity, potted up my faith, and pulled all my request levers again and again. I carefully calibrated my prayers to the Scriptures, making sure my petitions were aligned with the Bible. I tried to pray with such calculated, orthodox precision that God would be cornered into responding favorably to me.

But circumstances kept deteriorating. More warnings, alerts, and alarms blinked on the panel in front of me. So, I pounded on the “panic” button. And I searched for the right combination of switch positions that would get God to RESET my life.

Then I started to wonder if these levers, buttons, switches and dials had any effect on the real world. Was my control panel even connected to God? Had it ever been? It sure seemed like operating my console had worked in the past. But now I wasn’t sure.

Slowly, I began to understand that God was waiting patiently for me to stop my frantic manipulation of that control panel. I began to realize that, instead of trying harder to get God to respond to me, it was time for me to assume a spiritual posture of responsiveness to Him.  I needed to speak less and learn how to listen more.

It occurred to me that God had not been ignoring me. He had been whispering to me. He was calling me into deeper relational intimacy with Him. The Spirit was inviting me to live with God in the mystery of trust, and encouraging me to enjoy the freedom of surrendering all control to Him.

I now know the sovereign God is present with me. And that’s a life-changing thought.

6 thoughts on “Crisis in the Control Room

  1. Dave, Dave, Dave,
    You had me with “The sovereign God was in control.”
    And how that can be both comforting … and deeply unsettling, depending on the circumstances.
    And how we like it when God is being “reasonable” — and how we panic — flipping switches and pounding the control board — when God isn’t governing our affairs appropriately. (I wonder: Does God ever laugh until He snorts at our assessment of his actions?)
    Now to tackle the idea of the sovereign God being present with me … hmmm. Continue, Dave. Continue.

    • Beth, Beth, Beth. I do imagine that God thinks our assessments and reactions are pretty funny at times. He probably smiles warmly at me like I smile at my 5-year old when he is reasoning things through according to his best ability and according to his private interest. Thank you for sharing what resonated with you. It looks like I may have to revisit this matter of living in the Presence of the sovereign God sometime in the future, Until then, I’ll keep practicing :-)..

  2. Dave, I loved this. I used to always think that I had control of my life (I wonder how many times God laughed over that one!) When my husband and I got married, we mapped out our family—timelines, how many children we would have, when we would conceive, etc. When I was working through an in depth Bible study of Daniel, I saw God’s sovereignty in every aspect of the story. At the same time, we lost a pregnancy. It was actually through that study that I learned that God is always sovereign, his plans don’t always match mine and in His sovereignty is His love.

    I still try to control my life at times, but I’m learning to let go more quickly and lean into His plan for me. Not always easy, but it relieves some of the stress. 🙂

    I LOVED your analogy. And your drawing.

    • Thank you for your kind words of encouragement and for sharing from your personal experience how you bring the weighty truth of God’s sovereignty into the weighty matters of your life.
      Fighting for control or fretting over control is exhausting. I like how you talk about trust as a stress-reliever 🙂
      The message of Daniel is always striking to me every time that I revisit that book. It always recalibrates my thinking.

  3. Beautiful post, and terrific drawing!

    Here’s an analogy that may complement yours…during the Battle of Midway, on June 4, 1942, four US Army B-26 bombers were fitted with torpedoes and sent after the Japanese fleet.

    Arriving early, they were cut to pieces by the Japanese Combat Air Patrol, and never achieved positions for a successful attack. Except one…the pilot (whose name I do not know) realized that he would never make it back, and took his airplane – and crew – right on in, attempting to crash into the bridge of the Japanese flagship Akagi.

    He missed, by inches, and went into the sea.

    God is the pilot of our lives, and sometimes, circumstances may dictate that we go along for a ride whose end we never intended, or expected, or remotely wanted. But we have to trust that the Man has the best view of what’s happening.

    Not unlike what happened to His Son.

    (BTW – is there a way to subscribe, so I know when your posts come up?)

    • Thank you for the feedback, Andrew.

      Your supporting analogy is thought provoking and your conclusion is right on. The Pilot has the comprehensive view of all things and His operations have ends we do not see. And, yes, the torture and execution of His Son is the ultimate example of God’s unexpected means to His ultimate ends.

      Thank you so much for contributing to this conversation.

      (As for subscribing to this blog, I am showing you as a “follower” which is supposed to indicate that, at some time, you 1) typed your e-mail address in the open field on the right side of the home page, 2) clicked the “follow” button underneath, and then 3) confirmed a follow invitation message that was e-mailed to you. All this should mean you are getting e-mail notifications when a blog is published. But your inquiry indicates that you are not receiving any notifications. Perhaps trying those 3 steps again will yield a different result.)

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